Whether you want to start a four-piece in your garage or travel the world playing Django Reinhardt songs, there’s something invaluable about knowing how to play guitar. This instrument is an easy conversation piece and the best campfire accessory there is. A recent study performed by the French Psychology of Music even proved that 31 per cent of women were more likely to go on a date with a man holding a guitar. (This analysis backs up another study undergone in Israel last year, proving that every guy who started a band in high school to get a girlfriend was right!)

Not only does playing guitar make you look more attractive to the opposite sex, it actually makes you more intelligent. Scientists in Scotland have said that the cognitive impact of playing guitar can boost your brain function, while McGill analysis showed that it releases the chemical dopamine into the brain. (This is essentially the “happy pill” of brain chemistry, also linked to the consumption of chocolate and sex.) So why not get happier and smarter by learning how to strum away?

Playing guitar may look easy when Eric Clapton does it on your Last Waltz DVD, but it can be a challenging road to greatness. During the first stage when your fingers have not yet built up the essential callouses and muscles needed to stretch all the way to a bar chord, you may be tempted to give up. This is why practice, practice, practice is so important. There are several aspects involved in learning the guitar, from the memorization of proper notes and chords, to the necessary hand-eye coordination needed for playing a song without looking at your paperwork. You have to get used to the instrument and the instrument has to get used to you. Which is why you need the right guitar in your life before you can become the next Paul McCartney or even Joey Ramone.

Start by paying a visit to your local music shop and see what they have in stock. While you don’t have to start on an acoustic, there are some benefits to starting with a great beginner’s model like a Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker. (Priced at $650, this style is based on the classic 1950’s Les Paul favored by musicians like Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.) Look for an instrument with a clear, resounding sound with no pops, glitches or additional feedback. When you’re learning, you want the most accurate impression of what the right note or chord sounds like. Having a great instrument at your disposal will help you to understand when you hit the right sound and will impact your personal style.

While you can always purchase a used guitar from eBay or from a pal giving away their most shredded Stratocaster, smart musicians head to a credible shop to get a top-of-the-line guitar with a built-in warranty. Long &McQuade is the premiere music chain in Canada, with 65 stores coast to coast. They have a great selection of affordable beginner’s models from trusted brands like Fender, Mashall and Gibson that come with a one-year performance warranty. (You can see their selection of Gibson models and gear, priced from low to high at Long-mcquade.com/Gibson-Guitars.) When you have a great instrument to play, not only will it encourage girls to make out with you, you will also have a great incentive to practice so those same girls won’t be totally embarrassed by your terrible song about them. Build your callouses and also your skill-set when you purchase a killer guitar from a great shop.

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